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Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
A crush of 'Nutcrackers'
A crush of 'Nutcrackers'

When it comes to generating keen anticipation as Christmas nears, Santa Claus isn't the only source. Every year at this time, people gear up for another appearance (or several) of "The Nutcracker," the ballet with ear-grabbing music by Tchaikovsky and a bunch of colorful characters. As musicologist Richard Freed has written, there may be "several other ballets that are as respected or admired as this one, and several that might be considered in one sense or another more 'important,' but none that is more beloved." In Baltimore and Annapolis, audiences can catch at least three "Nutcracker" productions the weekend before Christmas. •There...

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